Keegan Bradley, Not Tiger Woods, Selected As 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain at Bethpage

Bradley, a Vermont native and major champion, has played in two Ryder Cups and will look to lead the U.S. to a bounce-back win.
Keegan Bradley played on U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 2012 and 2014.
Keegan Bradley played on U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 2012 and 2014. / Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods has turned down the U.S. Ryder Cup captaincy, leading the PGA of America to go off recent protocol with a unique choice to take the job next year at Bethpage Black: Keegan Bradley.

The PGA of America confirmed Monday afternoon what Sports Illustrated first reported earlier in the day: that Bradley, who was bypassed by captain Zach Johnson for an at-large pick last year, will succeed him as captain.

Bradley, 38, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour who captured the 2011 PGA Championship, has played in just two Ryder Cups and one Presidents Cup, the last time in 2014.

That event at Gleneagles in Scotland saw a controversial aftermath in the wake of Tom Watson’s second captaincy which led to the formation of a Ryder Cup task force and a succession plan for captains, who would first apprentice as assistants and work their way into the roles through both the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup.

A committee that includes three players (past captain Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas) and three PGA of America executives (including recently departed CEO Seth Waugh) has a major role in the decision-making process.

Woods was seemingly the only choice of the PGA of America for months and he fit the mold based on recent experience. He was the victorious playing captain for the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup team and also served as an assistant twice at the 2016 Ryder Cup and the 2017 Presidents Cup, both U.S. victories.

But Woods apparently turned down the job around the time that Waugh announced late last month that he would not be staying on past the expiration of his contract on June 30. Woods had said on several occasions he was unprepared to make a decision on the role due to his duties as a player director on the PGA Tour policy board.

Bradley is 4-2 in his two Ryder Cup appearances in 2012 and 2014 and 2-2-1 at the 2013 Presidents Cup. At both Ryder Cups—U.S. losses—he paired with Phil Mickelson to go a combined 4-1. At the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah outside Chicago, he lost in singles to Rory McIlroy on the day the Northern Irishman was late getting to the course due to a misunderstood tee time.

Last year, Bradley had won the Zozo Championship and then the Travelers Championship to put himself in position to make the U.S. team on points. But with only six automatic qualifiers, he failed to make it on points and his fate was left to a captain’s pick.

At 11th in the final standings, he was bypassed for the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. When the U.S. was soundly defeated, 16½ to 11½ at Marco Simone Golf Club outside of Rome, Bradley’s snub was the subject of considerable fodder.

The pain of being left off the team was even more apparent earlier this year when Netflix released its documentary Full Swing in which Bradley was filmed at his home getting the call from Johnson saying he was not being chosen.

“I kept telling myself, listen, this is not going to be easy,” Bradley said in an interview earlier this year with Sports Illustrated in advance of the Netflix release. “You’re not going to be picked if you’re a fringe pick. You have to go prove that they have to pick you. When I didn’t make the team on points, I knew that was a big risk. I knew that if it was down to me or some of those guys, I probably wouldn’t get picked. I knew that going in and I just kept trying to play as hard as I could.”

There has been considerable criticism of Johnson in the aftermath of the loss, caling it a “boys” club since the likes of Fowler and Thomas got picked over Bradley. Thomas had a previous successful pairing with Spieth as well.

“The thing is, those guys are close. They’re not just PGA Tour-close, they’re close friends,” Bradley said. “If you take golf out of the equation, they’re legit close friends. You have your close friends as a golfer and then you have your close PGA Tour friends, and a lot of the time your close friends aren’t on the Tour.”

Bradley famously kept his Ryder Cup bag from the 2012 event, brought it home and never opened it, vowing to make another team and win the Ryder Cup before doing so. Perhaps he will have the opportunity as a captain instead.

“I just hope, some day, I get to win a Ryder Cup and open that thing and just have, like, a peace-of-mind moment, because I’m thinking about the Ryder Cup every second of every day,” he said in the documentary.

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Bob Harig


Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.